What is Your Call to Action?

If you don’t have one, you should change that now.

Calls to action. Do you have one? Do you have multiple? What is a call to action? If you are a creative person trying to make it online, you need to be aware of this concept. Basically, a call to action is a command for your audience. It’s the sales pitch on social media captions. It’s the long ramble YouTubers give at the end of their videos. A call to action is any action your audience performs that will benefit you as a creator/business. 

Like, subscribe, turn on notifications, visit my website, become a patron on Patreon, support this content with a donation, follow the link in my bio, visit my store, buy merch, buy art, buy something else, share this post, bookmark it, visit my blog, sign up for my email list, and so on.

Calls to action are very important. Sometimes they are subtle. Sometimes they are in your face. Whatever form they take, you need to be aware of how to use them on your audience.

Why do you need a call to action?

It is not enough to just be on social media. It is not enough to just get a follower’s attention. Yes, you can attract new followers by simply sharing your art, but will you get art sales? Will you generate income or grow your email list if you are not giving your audience direction? You can, but using a call to action will increase your odds for success.

I remember when my Instagram following started to grow, I was filled with excitement when I got my first DMs asking, “Is that piece for sale?” It was a great feeling, but the fact a follower had to message me and ask this meant it wasn’t obvious my work was for sale. I wasn’t effectively communicating my call to action, and I was potentially missing out on sales as a consequence.

I got my audience’s attention, but had no idea what I should do with it after that. A call to action is the next step.

What is your call to action?

What do you want from your audience? What is your main focus? If you want to make art sales, then create calls to action that point your audience in that direction. If you just want new followers, then your call to action will come in the form of great content alone. (Please, please don’t use “follow me for more content like this” or anything of the sort in your social media captions. Also, do not drop unsolicited calls to follow you in strangers’ DMs or post comments. That is a waste of time and energy. Focus on creating great content.)

Every creator/creative business will have slightly different calls to action. It’s up to you to determine what you are pushing to your audience. Every social media profile and post/caption are opportunities for a call to action.

What do calls to action look like?

Calls to action in social media bios:

Instagram/Facebook/Tiktok/Twitter bios should always have a call to action and a link to whatever action you are asking your audience to perform. Focus on one, maybe two calls to action. Make sure your call to action is your main goal as a creator online at the moment.

All of these calls to action should be made clear when your audience taps on the link in your bio.

Examples:

  1. Commissions open, Email me at ____
  2. Join my email list
  3. Read latest blog post
  4. All art for sale
  5. Shop my store
  6. Sign up for my e-course
  7. View tutorials on YouTube
Hard Sells:

Hard sell calls to action get right to the point. Introduce an attractive piece of visual content to get your audience’s attention, and then direct them to your desired action immediately.

Examples:

  1. New pieces are in my shop! Follow the link in my bio to claim one.
  2. Hey! Follow the link in my bio to read my latest blog post.
  3. My commission schedule is now open for the month of May. DM me now to get on calendar.
Soft Sells:

Soft sells are less aggressive and open with something related to your call to action, but they don’t demand the performance of the action. Think of soft sells as just showing up and providing information to those who might be interested. I try to make the majority of my social posts soft sells.

Examples:

  1. This piece of art was inspired by *insert backstory to your art*. I am excited to finally put this piece into the world. If it speaks to you, it is currently available for sale. Follow the link in my bio and tap on the Shop button.
  2. Lately I have been thinking about *insert topic your audience might be interested in*, and this inspired me to write a new blog post. You can find it through the link in my bio.

The benefit to a soft sell is that it can double as a conversation starter, which leads me to the next kind of call to action.

Conversation Starters:

A call to action doesn’t need to focus on sales, nor does it need to focus on actions that benefit your tangible business goals. A call to action can be a call for conversation, a call for community, or a call for stories. This does two things. 1) It helps you get more online exposure as your posts get more engagement. And 2) It helps you connect with your audience while reinforcing your brand.

Social media is a popularity contest in a lot of ways. Posts that get more engagement get seen by more people. A call to action in the form of a question that can lead to conversation in the comments can then boost your exposure to a wider audience.

Think about the topics that relate to your art, your creative process, your brand, yourself, etc.. Then write a caption where you share a bit of your own thoughts before you turn the focus on your audience. Give them an opportunity to talk about their own experiences. Get to know your audience and let them get to know you.

How many calls to action can you have?

You can have a variety of calls to action. I have many that are tailored around all the things I do in my business. (Like sell my art, write blog posts, support my Patreon page, do consulting sessions, commissions, corporate licensing, and more.) The areas that make me the most money are the calls to action I focus on more often. Seems obvious, right? It’s not at first. You never know exactly what will be your biggest stream of income until you try it, promote it, and see what happens.

When you are first starting out, I suggest focusing on one money-oriented call to action, and a couple of community-oriented calls to action. If you want to work mostly on commission, then push that call to action most often using hard sells, soft sells, and then give your audience a break with conversation starters.

As your business grows, you can start introducing more calls to action that cater to your diversified income streams. Since I have multiple calls to action, I created a landing page for the link in my IG bio with buttons that I point to with each call to action I use in captions. (ex. New art is in my shop. Follow the link in my bio and tap on New Arrivals.)

What if your followers get tired of you selling to them?

If you want to sell your art, then you need to see yourself as a business. That means you have to think like a business too. You have a product to offer and you are online to sell it. Your followers should be following you because they enjoy your art and your brand. A true follower won’t get annoyed by your calls to action if a) they genuinely enjoy what you do and b) you offer quality content around your calls to action to keep them engaged.

To keep your audience from getting burned out on calls to action, stagger your use of hard sells, soft sells, and conversation starters. Don’t just bombard your audience with hard sells like “This piece is available for sale. Go to my website now to buy it,” on every caption you post.

How often should you use a call to action?

You should use a call to action in almost every social media post you create and your social profile bios should always have a call to action. Like I said above, don’t do a hard sell every time you post, but at the very least, plan on using a conversational call to action.

If you have your audience’s attention, don’t waste it.

***

Do you have a clear idea of your call to action now? If you don’t, I am always here! You can easily add a consulting session to my online calendar now.

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every week (kind of). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine!

-Kelly

@messyeverafter

P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artist’s with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services.

Read more about my consulting services and book an appointment today.

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading:

You Can’t Be Trusted To Judge Your Own Art

I have been, and will probably always be my own worst critic. I default to thinking everything I do sucks. My art, my writing, my face, and whatever else I can think of. My inner critic says it all blows. My inner critic is an asshole, and it should not be trusted. If you have an asshole inner critic too, then you my friend cannot be trusted to judge your own art. Or anything else you create for that matter.

I can be somewhat objective and evaluate the technical aspects of my art. I can tell you if I am lacking negative space and balance. I can tell you when I need more contrast or need to rework different forms. This is basic critiquing and every artist should learn how to recognize and manipulate design principles. What we cannot be trusted to do is judge the objective value of our work.

Is it good enough to show the world? Is it good enough to sell? Is it straight garbage to add to the dumpster fire of my life? Things like that. Most of the time, the judgment is wrong and biased.

I have created work that I hated, and it sold immediately. I have created work that I thought was amazing, and it sits in my studio for years. I’ve learned that the accuracy of my judgments needs improvement–but it’s been easier to just stop trying to judge my work at all.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

When I was writing my novel a couple of months ago, I kept hearing this nagging voice in my head that was all like “You’ve never written a novel. You will not be good at this. This book will be terrible. Who are you to think you can do this?” Before I accepted I was an artist, that voice said the same thing about my art.

Happily, I ignored that voice and continued writing (I’m working through third draft edits at the moment. Jury is still out on whether or not this thing does in fact suck major donkey balls–but that’s not my biggest concern.) While I was taking a break from writing, I googled “How to know if you suck at writing” and came across a video explaining the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

“The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. Essentially, low ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence. The combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own capabilities.” -Verywellmind

This filled me with hope. If I believe I am amazing at what I am doing, then that might actually mean I am worse than I think–so if I believe I suck, does that mean I am actually better than I think? Maybe. I might just have the ability to recognize my own incompetence and lack of skill. I might not be good–but I have the power to recognize that and try to get better.

You have to believe you suck just enough to keep you moving forward, but not suck so much that it paralyzes you.

Judgment Paralysis:

Past me would judge my work so harshly that 1) I didn’t show it to the world and 2) I let myself get so discouraged that I stopped creating. (I did this over and over again with writing most of all, but art as well.)

If you do either, then you have work to do. Dial back the judgment. Your internal critic needs to be quieted.

Grow while recognizing weaknesses:

Current me knows that my art isn’t the greatest, my writing could definitely still use a lot of work, and perfection is unattainable, but growth is always a good goal.

You’re not going to be perfect. You’re not going to be the best. Just make art and keep moving forward.

F**K It. Put it out into the world.

Every day I work on art, I still think 75% of the time “Well, this is garbage.” But I still finish the work and put it on social media and in my online store.

I have trained myself to not give shit if my work is good or bad. I make art that I enjoy. I put it into the world. Then I go make more art. I repeat that cycle and hope some of it sells. When I get tired of art, I go write. I don’t think I am great at writing, but I keep doing it. Maybe I am the worst, but that doesn’t matter, because I’ll only get better at what I do the more I do it.

Make the art. Put it out into the world. Let everyone else decide its value. But, if they do think it sucks, f**k ’em, because the value of art is subjective. Really, nobody can be trusted to judge your art objectively, but especially not you.

In summary:

Don’t judge your work. Recognize your weaknesses, and keep practicing. If you do judge your work, don’t let that stop you from creating or putting it out into the world. And if you think you’re the best f***ing artist that ever existed, then you probably do suck at what you do, but high five for being confident! Keep putting that art into the world!

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

***

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every week (kind of). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine! (See details below.)

-Kelly

@messyeverafter

P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artist’s with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.

Read more about my consulting services and book an appointment today.

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading:

Uninspired Work is Still Important Work

A few weeks ago, I saw a quote that sort of stuck in my head. I say “sort of,” because I don’t remember who said it and I don’t remember the exact wording. This always happens to me. I will misquote movie lines even after watching it a hundred times. I get the gist and my brain fills in the rest. Anyway, this quote said something about how social media is bad because it is forcing artists to create uninspired work in order to keep up with the fast paced need for more and more content. Artists no longer spend months or years on a project, because they have to churn out new content as often as multiple times a day.

When I read it, I agreed. “You’re right, stranger on the internet that I will forget about in 4 seconds, because social media has shortened my attention span!” *continues scrolling to distract from existential dread*

I forgot about the quote until yesterday, and was suddenly like “Hey! That person was wrong!” Or course, the social media post I saw was long gone, so I couldn’t go write a strongly worded comment–which I wouldn’t do anyway, because I avoid conflict–but I can scream into the internet void via my blog! So here I am.

What is uninspired work?

You know that feeling in your chest when you have this beautiful connection with your muse? You feel all light and airy, and you want to immediately gush some sort of magical idea onto a canvas, sketchbook, or whatever surface you can, because a creative power is surging through you? And suddenly, this new twist on your creativity is birthed into the world.

Yeah, uninspired work is not that.

Uninspired work is cliché, overdone, or unoriginal. Uninspired work is muscle memory or mimicry. It’s going through the motions. It’s showing up when you feel empty and squeezing some semblance of a creative product from the depths of your being. What flows through you when inspired, comes out like a dusty wheeze when you’re uninspired. It’s easy to think that social media begs for uninspired work, because it begs for content regardless of your state of inspiration. Artists are forced to create when they have nothing new or meaningful to say.

This can lead creative people to sacrifice quality for quantity when it comes to content, but this isn’t necessarily true for everyone nor is it inherently detrimental to creative end products. In fact, I think social media can lead to a wellspring of creativity if leveraged and I think that uninspired work is the most important work you can put yourself through.

A demand for content can keep an artist focused.

Even without social media, you shouldn’t wait for inspiration to hit you before you work on your craft. If you are serious about whatever form your creativity takes, then you should be exercising your skills often. Though, like any form of exercise, it’s easy to say “I don’t feel like it today. I’ll do it tomorrow instead.” How many “todays” have been wasted while waiting for tomorrow’s inspiration? I’ve wasted many.

The constant demand for content on social media keeps me accountable as a creator. I know that if I want to sell art, I need to grow my following. If I want to grow my following, I need to post often. If I am going to post often, then I need to create more art and more content. If I create more art, then I’ll have more to sell, and the cycle continues.

Inspired or uninspired, I make art and social content. Products from either state of creation don’t appear any more or less valuable, and I bet you can’t tell what art was created in either state if you looked at my Instagram.

A demand for more content can force an artist to to tell a bigger story about their creativity.

Anytime I work with my consulting clients during Instagram Assessments, I can hear the panic on the other end of the phone when I tell them they should be posting on social media every day.

“But I don’t have enough art for that!” They say.

And I try to soothe them with this: You don’t need to post a new piece of art every day. You need to post new content every day. There is a huge difference.

Social media isn’t demanding that you create new art from start to finish every day. If you are rushing your creative process, then you need to make adjustments. You need to make your art on the timeline it demands. Some artists create quick work that comes together in minutes, some create insanely detailed work that requires months of dedicated time. Do what your art demands, but expand your idea of what counts as social media content while you honor your creative process.

Create cheap content. Not cheap art.

When I say create cheap content, it’s not about creating something that has little value. It’s about creating content that doesn’t sap your energy. Be energetically thrifty on social media. Like I said before, you don’t need to create new art every day just to post on social media, but you can capture small parts of your process as you work.

A video of a brush stroke, a portrait of you next to your art, your studio space, your art supplies, your messy hands, your spilled paint water. What tells your story as a creator? Your social media posts are not just for your art. Your posts are for your entire story and life as an artist. Zoom out and capture the details of you, your process, and your inspiration. When you are forced to create more content, your creativity can flourish as you see your entire artistic life as a work of art.

Capture all of it. Show us who you are, why you create, and why we should care about your art when you finally have an end product to show and sell.

Showing up can shake inspiration loose.

I can’t tell you how many times I have entered my studio without a shred of inspiration in me and walked out hours later with something completely new and inspiring laid out on my work tables. If I didn’t need to create in order to produce content to post and sell, then I’d easily shirk my creative responsibilities and go eat ice cream or watch TV. Or both, more likely, while I wait for inspiration to hit me.

Inspiration is a strange thing. You can’t predict when it will hit, but you can make sure to show up and be close to your medium when it happens. Almost every time I create from an uninspired place, I start to see my art supplies in different ways. My brain hates the discomfort of being forced to sit with my creativity when it isn’t flowing, and so it actually becomes more creative as it tries to get rid of the discomfort.

When I am tired of what I’ve been doing in the studio, I do different things to excite my brain. I look at old work from the past and try to combine it with new stuff. I pick up a tool I haven’t used in awhile. I grab a color that normally doesn’t speak to me. Even if I change what I did before in just one small way, I can still experience creative growth.

A lack of inspiration forces me to shake inspiration loose to end the discomfort I feel. This wouldn’t happen without being forced to sit in my studio and create in order to feed the social media monster.

***

Your work won’t always be inspired. Your work won’t always feel new and fresh. Sometimes you will hit a wall and get tired of your creations, but if you keep moving forward, you will grow. If you create for the sake of producing content and never actually feel inspired, you will still grow creatively. Uninspired work is important work. It’s where you sit in discomfort and struggle through the process, and it’s where you make the most progress. Social media can lead you to create art that is inspired in ways that can surprise you.

So, sorry random person on the internet whose quote loosely stuck into my brain. You weren’t entirely accurate!

***

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every week (kind of). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine! (See details below.)

-Kelly

@messyeverafter

P.S. You know by now that I am here to help artist’s with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.

Read more about my consulting services and book an appointment today.

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading: